Tuesday, May 18

Sound of Metal Review – Riz Ahmed keeps spinning on disability drama | Films


TThe existential theme of disability is preoccupied in this vehemently played addiction recovery drama about a heavy metal drummer who suddenly experiences hearing loss. Clearly, very personal experiences are being fictionalized here. Director and co-writer Darius Marder has openly based his film partly on his hearing-impaired grandmother and partly on an abandoned docu-drama project he was developing 10 years ago with director Derek Cianfrance called Metalhead, in which the mega film From real life -decibel, the metal duo Jucifer were going to play a version of themselves in which they imagine the drummer (unsurprisingly) going deaf. However, in this movie, hearing loss is not the only issue at stake.

Riz Ahmed delivers a typically fierce and focused performance as Ruben, drummer for an avant-metal band called Blackgammon; his partner Lou (Olivia Cooke) is a guitarist and singer. They tour the United States in an RV playing for loyal metalheads. They’re happy enough until Ruben realizes he can’t hear anything, a terrifying hearing fog on the soundtrack, and the catastrophe gets even worse because he’s a recovering heroin addict with serious relationship problems. Ruben’s sponsor suggests he is applying to a radical therapeutic community led by a grizzled Vietnam veteran named Joe, in whose role Paul Raci gives a serious and quiet performance. Joe believes that people with hearing impairments must “learn to be deaf” – learn to accept their condition as a valid alternative existence and find the stillness within themselves, which is the vital precondition for this learning process. But Ruben, angry and bewildered, is still planning to somehow raise the money for an expensive and risky surgery that would restore some of his hearing, although that could mean selling his RV and his musical equipment, sabotaging the music career that was supposedly the goal. . .

Sound of Metal is a painful, thoughtful and gloomy film that reflects a long history in a few months. Ruben almost immediately finds a doctor to test his hearing, almost immediately finds a place in Joe’s community, almost immediately progresses from mutinous misunderstanding to early days of that surrendered wisdom that makes him an invaluable student-teacher to people. hearing impaired. children. There is a nice opening scene where Ruben is invited to write his name on the board, and he gruesomely scribbles it in huge letters, making all the children wince. It is the equivalent of yelling.

At first, it seems like Sound of Metal is going to be all about the Ruben and Joe clash and their differences of opinion. Actually, it is not a million miles apart in Children of a lesser God (1979), between William Hurt’s idealistic teacher who believes in vocalization and Marlee Matlin’s rebellious alumnus who opposes it in favor of sign language as something with a cultural authenticity of its own, although here the teacher / student attitude is invest. But the narrative moves beyond this, into something interesting unfinished and unclosed, which brings us to the painful story of Lou and her relationship with her father Richard (an intriguing if opaque cameo from Mathieu Amalric).

But what about Rubén’s drug problem? Will it relapse or what? Or is the film trying to suggest that the world of heavy metal, far from being an admirable artistic vocation or a creative vocation, is itself a type of addiction, one with an obvious risk of disability? I’m not sure. This movie could easily have been about a drummer who goes deaf and has no drug problems. Sound of Metal tries to do something else, something more complex, but disability and addiction seem to mix with uneasiness, and the film never unravels the threads. But Ahmed’s performance clarifies the drama and conveys the meaning of Rubén’s final epiphany. He gives the movie energy and point.

Sound of Metal opens April 12 on Amazon Prime Video and in theaters May 17.


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